I grew up listening to stories of Valley of Flowers from my mother. Those were the summers of 1982 and I was a 10 year old precocious kid, eager to learn, explore and know all that lay beyond the compound of the Cotton Mills in Kanpur where my father was employed.
The reference to the Valley came as mom sprinkled saffron in sooji halwa that she was cooking to pack for our train journey. We were preparing to go to Dehradun to visit my brother who was a cadet at the Indian Military Academy. In addition to visiting the hallowed precincts of the academy, on our itinerary was a pilgrimage to Haridwar, Hrishikesh and Badrinath.
“What are those strands?”, I asked, curious to know why she was adding a tiny pinch from a small container that had a permanent place of pride in the refrigerator. Because moms always have answers, she went into the kitchen garden to pluck a flower. “Saffron strands are actually styles and stigma of a flower,” she said pointing to the flower she had plucked.
“It comes from Kashmir, the crown of our country. A valley called Pampore cultivates these purple lilies from which the strands of saffron come. It’s called the Queen of Spices for its numerous health benefits and also cost. Can you imagine, it’s more expensive than gold in weight! When the saffron flowers bloom in Kashmir, the entire valley turns purple!Many believe it to be a sight one must see in their lifetime,” she explained.
As she peeled and chopped almonds, her vivid description continued, “Nature has given us many miraculous gifts and it is onto us to appreciate and preserve them. Do you know close to Badrinath, where we will be going is a valley so beautiful and so full of flowers that it’s actually called Valley of Flowers. You have to trek mountains to get to this valley. When the flowers bloom, the entire valley is covered is blue, pink, red, yellow colors. The perfume of the flowers is so heady that many people have fainted from inhaling such strong smells.”
This was my first introduction to the Valley of Flowers. In later years no description of the valley evoked imagery as vivid as my mom’s narrative.
Till date the Valley of Flowers remains the fabled land that she had described and yearned to go in that summer of 82. Till date I believe, Valley of Flowers is a place new flower, butterfly and bird species are discovered because she told me so. Till date I haven’t visited Valley of Flowers but this August I am going to change that.
I will visit Valley of Flowers with the team GoMissing. 🙂 Will you too join us?
Check GoMissing pictures from treks in past years.